A fairly quiet week for me due to personal obligations, but I was able to attend the Skype chat… glad I made it since there were some interesting discussions.
Bayne: Reflecting upon the readings for this week, I tweeted about the idea of students as ghosts in a haunted classroom… I was reading the Bayne article while proctoring an exam, and observing the students, and the line “the ontological blurring of being and not-being, presence and absence online…” inspired my tweet. I saw the students attending a traditional class, but at the same time not being 100% present in that they were participating in other worlds through their BlackBerrys, or surreptitiously through the web while they thought I wasn’t looking.
How much presence constitutes attendance to the class? Does the physical body just need to be in a seat, or is mental presence necessary as well? Can any of us say that we are truly fully present in anything we do… especially when so many things are calling for our attention?
I would argue that a new vision of a university must harness the idea of ghostliness, and challenge students in new ways to retain their presence in the learning process. The online/distance model forces students to engage more actively in the class in order to be credited for their work. The work can be done at any time, anywhere, but it must be done. The old traditional method gives them freedom to be distracted. I wonder if it would be possible to successfully blend the two in my classroom, or would it cause chaos?
Kress: I found it hard to read the Kress article without thinking of the medium and message debate again. Should we concentrate more on the medium (text, pictures) or the message that is being transmitted? Is how we interpret the message impacted by the medium we choose to share it with? Is the progression from text to pictures not more to do with our culture than the positives or ‘gains and losses’ of one form vs the other? As Kress asks “Would the next generation of children actually be much more attuned to truth through the specificity of depiction rather than the vagueness of word? “
“One felt as if there was an enormous well behind them, filled up with ages of memory and long, slow, steady thinking; but their surface was sparkling with the present: like sun shimmering on the outer leaves of a vast tree, or on the ripples of a very deep lake. I don’t know but it felt as if something that grew in the ground — asleep, you might say, or just feeling itself as something between root-tip and leaf-tip, between deep earth and sky had suddenly waked up, and was considering you with the same slow care that it had given to its own inside affairs for endless years.”
But which description do you prefer, or is more beneficial to your understanding; the Tolkien words or the Peter Jackson image? I argue that as Kress states… “words are empty entities to be filled with meaning.” The image is Jackson’s interpretation of Tolkien’s words, and his image shapes our understanding of the character. Can we watch the film and imagine Treebeard as looking any different? We are locked into the imagery, but in reading, the character can be anything we want…
Thomas: In reading the Thomas article, and the “questions about the impact of computers on literacy (and upon the literary). Is the Internet really changing the ways in which we read, write, and think? Is the book truly dead?“ My first thought was of Amazon.com, and the millions of books they sell… But then, their e-reader is extremely popular, so is the technology outnumbering the printed book in sales? It does appear to be so, thus perhaps the printed book will soon be dead…. or perhaps it is that the printed material is just the medium, and the work itself is not dependent on it… do we need therefore to redefine what the book itself is?
If we are moving into a transliterate world, and we have the technology to broadcast ourselves to the world, does this mean that true literacy will suffer? Or is it a new frontier, with projects such as A Million Penguins leading the way? Despite the tendency of our culture towards digital narcissism, surely there are still some quality pieces being created.
As the Thomas article quotes Microsoft National Technology Officer Jerry Fishenden: “The move to the digital era could be as democratizing as the birth of the printing press was in the fifteenth century. It will bring the ability to capture and share human experiences, learning and entertainment in far more intuitive ways than the age of literacy allowed.” We have reached an age where anyone with a computer can be a published author, information is shared globally in an instant, and you too can be the star of your own world…